As lawmakers consider the future of the public behavioral health system, I hope they keep my story and those of countless other North Carolinians in mind. Anyone who’s experienced a mental health crisis can attest it’s often a dark road with few resources. Misunderstanding and stigma surround what you’re going through, making it hard to heal and recover. Substance abuse is a social crisis that grows with increasing mental health care cuts, making access out of reach for so many.
I speak from experience. I was married, gainfully employed in teaching with a master’s in education and engaged in projects to help disadvantaged children get a good education. Then, a traumatic, abusive experience brought my world tumbling down, leaving me with complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
More than a diagnosis, I needed help and support. I didn’t know where to turn or what questions to ask. PTSD led to severe substance use. Despite multiple attempts to identify programs that reached beyond rehab, hospital and jail walls, I found myself homeless, unemployed and relying on mercies that kept me physically alive while my mental condition worsened.
Finally, I found Jennifer, a certified peer support specialist, who led me to Family Preservation Services. Her ability to understand what I was going through and the inspiration and hope she provided have been lifesaving to me.
Today, I’m proud to support my community. I’m passionate about helping others on their path to recovery. And I’m a newly certified peer support specialist. None of this would be possible without the hope that Jennifer and FPS gave me when I had none left.
Organizations like FPS are essential to our community — a place to go when there’s nowhere else to turn. Without these services, I wouldn’t be writing this today; someone else would be writing my obituary. I urge our lawmakers to adequately fund life-changing mental health care for the good of our society, economy and future.
— Kate Brereton